There are some posts so strange you don’t quite know how to write them. This is one of those posts.
Alex Jones is a crackpot radio host who traffics in bizarre conspiracy theories. He is also very popular, and weirdly close to Donald Trump. Trump has tweeted links to Jones’s site Infowars; he has echoed conspiracy theories that originated on Jones’s site (like the idea that California has no drought, and the problem is being manufactured by environmental regulators trying to save an endangered fish); and he has been a guest on Jones’s show, where he told Jones that “you have an amazing reputation.”
And it’s not just Trump. Trump’s close adviser Roger Stone is a close friend of Jones’s and a frequent guest on his show. It’s plausible that Stone is the conduit through which Jones’s mania typically reaches Trump.
That’s a long wind-up for why I am telling you what Alex Jones just said. When you read this — when you read a radio host Trump likes arguing that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are literally devils from hell who attract flies and smell of sulfur — think about what it means for what kinds of ideas about Clinton might seem reasonable to someone marinating in this kind of rhetoric and vitriol. If one end of the spectrum you’re on is “she’s demon possessed,” then “Hillary Clinton is a criminal who rigs elections and deserves to be in jail” isn’t a particularly extreme position:
You can also watch the rant here, if you prefer:
Video: Alex Jones reports that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are demons who smell like sulfur pic.twitter.com/BOUoKNljcV— Media Matters (@mmfa) October 10, 2016
For the record, I have interviewed both Clinton and Obama, and I didn’t notice any unusual smells.
All this would be hilarious if Jones wasn’t, in some way, an actual player in Donald Trump’s informational ecosystem. But among the scariest things about Donald Trump is the sources he chooses to trust. Polls are only legitimate if they show him ahead. Conspiracy theories are valid so long as they flatter his view of the world. Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Muslims in New Jersey cheered the fall of the Twin Towers. Climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. Vaccines cause autism. The FBI hasn’t jailed Hillary Clinton because the system is corrupt. The Clintons perhaps murdered Vince Foster. Obama is a secret Muslim. Antoni Scalia was assassinated. And on, and on, and on.
Jones is nuts, but he’s the kind of nuts Trump listens to, at least when convenient. And Trump takes these ideas and bases his approach off them. If this is the milieu you start from, merely throwing Clinton in jail is a compromise proposal.
“There’s no way the Trump people would have reached out to me a year and a half ago, if he wasn’t aware of the work,” Jones told the New Republic. “He’s been what you call a ‘closet conspiracy theorist’ for 50 years. I think he’s been a chameleon in the system, and now he sees the time to strike.”
This is one theory Jones might actually have right.
Here, by the way, is Trump’s interview on Jones’s show: